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Final 'Waffle' Report: Project would save RR Valley region more than $800 million

GRAND FORKS - The Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota issued its final report today on the mult-year Waffle Flood Mitigation project.

The results showed that if the plan, which is a based on storing spring runoff in area depressions and ditches, is used, it could save communities in the Red River Valley more than $800 million, a release from the EERC said.

The Waffle Project temporarily stores springtime runoff in existing depressions within the basin, primarily ditches and low-lying fields bound by roads. Release of the retained water could be controlled to reduce peak flood crests, the EERC said.

"If the Waffle concept would have been in place in 1997, this would have augmented the dikes in place, and we would not have had a flood," EERC Director Gerald Groenewold, who helped initiate the project in 1997, said in the release. "There are two types of dikes: those that have been breached and those that will be. The only way to provide real, economically viable security against flooding in this region is by augmenting the current dike systems."

According to the 523-page report, some scenarios show that Waffle implementation would save more than $800 million in flood damage over the next 50 years (this is a net benefit, meaning the costs of implementing the Waffle were already subtracted). Damage from the 1997 flood topped $2 million throughout the Red River Valley.